ON THIS DATE (6TH APRIL) 101 YEARS AGO : TWO VOLUNTEERS MURDERED BY ‘ROGUE’ RIC MEN.
The RIC and the Black and Tans (pictured), representatives of ‘British justice’ in Ireland in the 1920’s who, incidentally, are still here, albeit with different uniforms (and transportation!).
On the 6th of April, 1921 – 101 years ago on this date – two IRA men, Patrick Conroy, from Tarmon, Castlerea, in County Roscommon, and James Monds, from South Park, Castlerea, who were friends and neighbours, were pulled out of their homes by an RIC/Black and Tan raiding party and executed –
‘James Monds was a local Protestant farmer who fell victim to England’s tyranny in April 1921. At that time in Roscommon, as across Ireland, the Black and Tans, the RIC and the Auxiliaries were running rampant. The most infamous deeds of the forces of the Crown are known to all. The sack of Balbriggan, the burning of Cork, the murder of MacCurtain in Cork and Father Griffin in Galway are but a few. The so called ‘Castlerea Murder Gang’ consisted of British soldiers, RIC and Black and Tans. They would act on information provided by informers and raid local houses late at night looking for their victims.
The gang would arrive at the door with blackened faces and shine a light in the face of a suspect who would be identified by the informer. If the unfortunate person was wanted by the British he would be taken away and shot or beaten to death as was the case with Volunteer Pat Conroy who was murdered the same night as James Monds.
James was a Volunteer of the Irish Republican Army and had been involved in land agitation. It is known that he refused to sing ‘God Save The King’ in church which may have singled him out as a republican or ‘shinner’ to those loyal to the Crown. He was taken from his house on the night of the 6th of April 1921 and his bullet-riddled body was found the next day. The ‘Murder Gang’ extracted no information from him regarding local Volunteers and they killed him despite him having 6 children…’ (from here.)
It later transpired that the British troops raided the home of James Monds looking to remove his 17-year-old son, but the father pleaded with them to take him instead, and leave his son out of it. They did, which is about the only act of ‘kindness’ any republican could hope for, from a British mercenary.
The next morning, the riddled body of James Monds was located at the end of the road. Incidentally, the man in charge of that particular British murder gang, RIC Sergeant James King (pictured here, at his funeral service) was infamous as a well-known thug in uniform in Ireland and then became famous as the last member of the RIC to be killed during the War of Independence –
“On the morning of the 11th of July (1921) Thomas Crawley was waiting. Sergeant King of the RIC was the principal man in the murder gang that was organised in the RIC in Castlereagh and was responsible for a number of killings around the area. He was badly wanted by us. On the morning of the Truce, the 11th July 1921, we made a final effort to get this man. Between 10am and 11am on that morning we proceeded into the town on this mission…we went into a shop to get a drink of lemonade and when only a few minutes there Sergeant King came out of his own house on the opposite side of the street and proceeded to get on his cycle as if to go to the barracks. We left the shop. Ned Campion and I let him have it. He died immediately. Although the truce took effect at 12 O’Clock on that day, the enemy chased us until about 6pm that evening. We finally escaped them, however, by adopting the role of shepherds gathering up sheep…” (from here.)
King was struck in the chest by at least two of his attackers bullets and despite receiving prompt medical attention died at approximately 10.30am – less than two hours before the ceasefire was due to begin. Local IRA men later recounted how King and his gang burst into the Vaughan family home at Cloonsuck, County Roscommon, on the 22nd June 1921, catching three IRA men unaware : the three republicans made a run for it, but two of them – Ned Shanahan and John Vaughan – were shot dead. The third IRA man, Martin Ganly, was captured and, during the search of the house, King battered (the deceased) John Vaughan’s mother unconscious with his rifle butt and stopped on his way out of the house and shot the family dog dead.
A nasty and vindictive piece of work by all accounts, ‘relatives’ of whom wear a similar uniform today, in this country, and share the same attitude and morals as Sergeant King did.
‘STIRRING BODENSTOWN COMMEMORATION.’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, July, 1954.
The annual pilgrimage to the grave of Wofe Tone in Bodenstown took place on Sunday, 20th June (1954). The bad weather during the morning failed to damp the enthusiasm of the big crowd who travelled from every part of the Thirty-Two Counties to attend.
The parade was the largest for many years, prominent among those present being parties from Belfast, Newry, Armagh, Donegal, Derry, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Clare, Roscommon, Leitrim, Mayo and from every one of the Leinster counties. There was a special train from Dublin, while eight buses and hundreds of cars also made the journey.
Wreaths were laid by Seán O’Duinn, Chairman of the National Commemoration Committee, by Tomás O’Dubhghaill, President of Sinn Féin, and by Seamus MacEalla on behalf of the Wolfe Tone Cumann, London. The Last Post and Reveille were sounded by buglers of Na Fianna Éireann, and bands in attendance included the Cork Volunteer Pipers and the Saint Lawrence O’Toole Pipers and Girl Pipers Band from Dublin… (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (6TH APRIL) 127 YEARS AGO : THE ‘WILDE CADOGEN BOY'(!)
“There is no country in the world so much in need of unpractical people as this country of ours. With us, Thought is degraded by its constant association with practice. Who that moves in the stress and turmoil of actual existence, noisy politician, or brawling social reformer, or poor narrow-minded priest blinded by the sufferings of that unimportant section of the community among whom he has cast his lot, can seriously claim to be able to form a disinterested intellectual judgment about any one thing?
Each of the professions means a prejudice. The necessity for a career forces every one to take sides. We live in the age of the overworked, and the under-educated ; the age in which people are so industrious that they become absolutely stupid..”
Oscar Wilde (Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde, pictured [left], with ‘Lord’ Alfred [‘Bosie’] Douglas), the Irish wit, poet and dramatist, was born in Dublin on the 16th October, 1854, and became somewhat of a celebrity for his flamboyant shows of ‘outrageousness’ ; indeed, so industrious (!) was he at flaunting his differences that he became ‘absolutely stupid’ about it!
On the 6th April 1895 – 127 years ago on this date – Mr Wilde was arrested in the Cadogan Hotel, in London, over a legal action he had lost : he challenged the right of the 9th Marquess of Queensberry, John Sholto Douglas (a brute of a man, by all accounts) to call him a homosexual. Mr Wilde’s challenge went to court and the ‘nobleman’ of a Marquess won.
Oscar didn’t help himself, in that regard, as he was ‘stepping out’, quite publicly, with a British ‘Lord’, a Mr Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas, who was the son of John Sholto Douglas (incidentally, Bosie’s brother, Francis, was also a homosexual, who ‘stepped out’ himself with a British Liberal Prime Minister. Oh what a tangled web we weave..!).
Mr Wilde was sentenced to two years hard labour in Reading Gaol prison for gross indecency and it was while incarcerated there (from 1895 to 1897) that a fellow prisoner, British Army trooper Charles Thomas Wooldridge (30), was hanged for murdering his wife ; the hangman, James Billington, miscalculated his measurements and poor Mr Wooldridge left this earth with a neck which was eleven inches longer than it was before he had stepped on to Mr Billington’s platform.
When he was released, Mr Wilde was to all intents and purposes a broken man – his health and his reputation suffered and he went to Berneval-le-Grand, in France, hoping for a fresh start. It was there that he wrote the poem ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’, which he dedicated to Charles Thomas Wooldridge –
‘Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword…’
Incidentally, Mr Wilde’s mother, Jane Francesca Elgee, wrote in favour of Irish republicanism under the name ‘John Fanshaw Ellis’ and the nom de plume ‘Speranza of The Nation’.
“My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or other of us has got to go…” – reportedly the last words of Oscar Wilde before he died of meningitis in a cheap room in the Hotel d’Alsace in Paris, France, on the 30th November 1900, in his 46th year. He was penniless.
THE NOT SO IRISH NEWS…
Rita Smyth examines the editorials of the Northern newspaper, ‘The Irish News’, for the first six months of 1987.
Her analysis shows how the paper reflects the political attitudes of the Stormont Castle Catholics (who dominate the SDLP*) and the conservative values of the Catholic Hierarchy, especially Bishop Cahal Daly.
(From ‘Iris’ magazine, October 1987.)
(‘1169’ comment – *…and who now fill the ranks of other Stoop-like political parties in Stormont and Leinster House.)
Politics, they tell us repeatedly, ‘is the art of the possible’, and their ‘vision’ of the society for which we can aspire is, when spelled out, a very limited one indeed. It is not just the tactic of armed struggle that they deem ‘futile’ but the object of that struggle. A somewhat more honest journalist, writing for a British audience, spoke of the “mutally exclusive aspiration” of loyalism and republicanism.
An aspiration to Irish unity and independence is meaningless if there is no perspective of achieving it. ‘The Irish News’ is clear about what is in their view ‘possible’ – “The ending of partition and withdrawal of British troops and influence is the basis of Sinn Féin’s plan. There is something unrealistic about a plan whose structures depend on such fundamental change”. (May 2nd)
“(British withdrawal) will not take place in the forseeable future..” (June 30th) “Nineteen years of such violence has done nothing but harden the hearts of the unionist community” (June 3rd) “Killings harden the resolve of the British” (April 22nd)
“A long time ago, we reached a situation where far more could be achieved through negotiation than the power of a gun” (March 27th)
‘Politics’ are held out as the alternative to violence but ‘politics’ for them is not the politics of the dispossessed fighting for real social change. More can be achieved, we are assured, by “the arguments of eminent people” (March 3rd) in the corridors of power… (MORE LATER.)
‘TAKE YOUR CHOICE.’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, March, 1955.
A recruiting drive for the Free State Army is now under way and a large advertisement issued by the Free State Department of Defence was printed in ‘The Irish Times’ on the 25th February (1955) and read thus –
‘The Free State Army veteran to the new recruit : “The Army has made a man of me and the training I got has stood to me all my life. The Army today is a much better place than in the old days. There’s less foot slogging, for one thing, and all the new weapons they have must be fascinating to learn to operate. The Army taught me to stand on my own two feet – made me self reliant and gave me confidence in myself. And the physical training I got has kept me healthy ever since.
Very many men today owe their success to the initiative and self reliance developed in their early Army days – an asset that has proved invaluable to them on their return to civilian life. That’s easy to understand because the training that the soldier today receives in our modern Army, apart from his technical training, is the best possible foundation for life that any young man can get.
Ample holiday and leisure time!
Sport and recreation!”
An IRA member read the above advertisement and scoffed ‘But they’ll never man the Bearna Baoghal!‘. That man then replied to the above Free State propaganda… (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (6TH APRIL) IN…
On the 6th April, 1919, IRA Volunteers in Limerick city put their plan in motion to free one of their comrades, Robert Byrnes (pictured), the Dublin-born Battalion Adjutant of the 2nd Battalion of the IRA Mid-Limerick Brigade, from confinement in a hospital beside the Union Workhouse on the Shelbourne Road in Limerick, but the plan didn’t work out as intended.
At least 54 IRA members took part in the planning stages of the operation, of whom about 20 Volunteers took part in the actual rescue operation itself ; a replica of the hospital ward showing the position of Robert Byrnes and his guards was reconstructed at the headquarters of C Company in Gerald Griffin Street to enable IRA members to plot out the operation in precise detail.
Peadar Dunne, the Battalion Commandant of the 2nd Battalion, knew that their man was being guarded at his hospital bed by five members of the RIC and one prison warder, but he wasn’t to know that, once overpowered – rather than admit defeat at the hands of the IRA – the RIC would shoot Robert Byrnes at point blank range in the chest, inflicting such a serious wound that the injured IRA man died within a few hours… more here.
On the 6th April, 1921, the IRA West Connemara Flying Column (with PJ MacDonnel in command) attacked a five-man fully-armed RIC cycle patrol from Maam, Co. Galway, at Screebe Church, near Oughterard, resulting in the wounding of one RIC man, a William Pearson, a New Zealand native.
As was common with such patrols, the RIC men had spread themselves out from each other, and the IRA Flying Column had done the same, which meant that the five enemy ‘policemen’, unknown to them, had entered a ‘ring’ established by the IRA to ensure that the leading target and the rear target and, obviously, those in between, were covered by the ark of fire of the whole column.
A gun battle ensued resulting in the wounding of ‘Constable’ Pearson which encouraged his colleagues to surrender ; their weapons and bicycles were taken from them (as were several bottles of poitín!) and they were released from custody. The RIC member died later from his wounds, and his colleagues returned in force and burnt five houses in the vicinity (including Patrick Pearse’s old holiday home) and the local co-operative.
A Sligo man, John Wymes, joined the RIC on the 5th August, 1882, and was moved from area to area – Louth, Offaly, Kerry, Roscommon, Westmeath and Galway, before being ‘dismissed from service’ in 1901.
He settled in Loughglinn, in the Castlerea district of Roscommon, with his wife and nine children, and got out of the ‘law and order’ business and into farming, on a 12 acre plot of land. Whatever legacy of pain and suffering he left behind in his previous ‘work’ areas caught up with him on the 6th April in 1921, at about 2am, when a number of armed men removed him from his house.
Mr Wymes refused to open his front door to the callers but did so eventually, and was instructed by the men to get dressed. One of his sons, Alfred, later stated that one of the men told his father that they wouldn’t delay him too much and when Alfred went to leave the house with his father he was told by one of the men to get back in the house.
When their father wasn’t back by about 5am, two of his sons went searching for him ; they found two dead bodies – their father and a man named John Gilligan. A placard was tied around the neck of John Wymes, on which was wrote – ‘Spies and informers. This is your fate. IRA.’
IRA Volunteers belonging to the Kilteevan Company, South Roscommon Brigade IRA, let it be known that they had carried out that operation and, some years later, the republicans that were said to have pulled the triggers were named as John Brennan and Patsy Tracey.
John Gilligan’s widow secured £2,000 in compensation for the loss of her husband.
A man named John Gilligan worked as a postman in the Loughglinn area of County Roscommon and, between 1am and 2am on the morning of the 6th April, 1921, he answered a knock on his front door. Two men told him to get dressed, while a third man stood slightly behind them. Mr Gilligan broke down and started shaking and crying and, handing his wife the few bob he had in his pocket, told her that she may never see him again.
The three men took him away and about half an hour later gunshots were heard in the neighbourhood. His body was found beside the body of John Wymes.
Mr Gilligan had been a member of the ‘Connaught Rangers’ (aka ‘The Devil’s Own’) until he was ‘dismissed from service’ in 1919.
IRA Volunteer Patrick Cloonan (27), was helping out around a farm belonging to Larry Donoghue, who had recently broken his leg, and was sleeping in Mr Donoghue’s house each night. At about 3.30am on the morning of the 6th April, 1921, a number of armed and masked men raided the house and took Patrick Cloonan away with them. His body was found a few hours later, almost naked, on the strand near the house. he had been shot in the chest.
The RIC claimed that Patrick Cloonan had tried to leave the Republican Movement and had been shot dead by his own comrades, but it later transpired that the RIC had suspicions that Patrick Cloonan was involved in the shooting dead of a pro-British spy on the 2nd April that year (an ex-British soldier and ex-RIC member, Thomas Morris, from Kinvara in County Galway, was shot dead as a spy by the IRA) and the RIC wanted revenge.
IRA Volunteer Jack Brett (19) was a gifted sportsman who won two Tipperary Senior Championships with the CJ Kickham Senior Football Club and was on the Tipperary team which played against Dublin in Croke Park on ‘Bloody Sunday’, 21st November 1920.
He was also Captain of the Drangan Company, Tipperary No 3 Brigade IRA, and was forced to go on the run after the Nine Mile House ambush in November 1920 ; he and a comrade, Ned Cuddihy, joined the Dublin Brigade of the IRA and he was sent to County Kilkenny, where he was staying in the Donovan family farm in Castlejohn, near Windgap, in that county, with other Volunteers.
A comrade of his accidentally discharged his weapon and the blast killed Volunteer Brett.
On the 1st April, 1921, Peadar O’Donnell, the Officer Commanding of the 2nd Donegal Brigade IRA, travelled to Derry city to assist in planning an operation and, on the 6th April, an attack on Lecky Road RIC Barracks took place.
An RIC member, Michael Kenny (‘Service Number 65275’), 33 years of age, who had joined that grouping in June, 1910, was killed. His widow was paid £1,500 compensation, and each of their two children received £250.
An ex-British Army member, Thomas Beirne (27) was living in the family home in Drumlish, County Longford with, among other family members, a brother, who was also ex-British Army.
At about 11.30pm on the 6th April, 1921, two men – one of whom was armed – entered the house and took Thomas away. He broke free from his captors and ran back into the house, seeking refuge in his bedroom, but was shot dead there. Three days later the family were told to leave the area before the 12th April or risk being dealt with as spies. They left.
The RIC buried Thomas Beirne, and his mother received £750 in compensation.
John ‘Boxer’ O’Mahony, an ex-member of the British Army ‘Royal Munster Fusilers’, lived in Mary Street, in Rahoneen, in Tralee, County Kerry, and worked as a shoemaker.
He had been watched by Tralee Battalion IRA and was suspected of being an informer, and was arrested in a local pub. An IRA court martial found him guilty and he was shot dead. A placard attached to his body stated – ‘No 1 spy. Convicted and executed by the Flying Squad. Traitors Beware.’
His children were given £3,000 in compensation.
In Dublin, at about 8pm on the 6th April, 1921, as a lorry carrying members of the British Army Worcestershire Regiment was driving on Harcourt Street, a bomb exploded near it and it came under fire. A gun battle ensued and two of the IRA attackers, Terence Glynn and Daniel Carew, were hit ; a passer-by, Michael Daly, went to help the wounded Volunteers just as one of them threw another bomb at the lorry. The explosion killed Mr Daly and wounded a British Army Lieutenant named Gregory.
Terence Glynn died that day, and his comrade, Daniel Carew, died the following day.
On the 6th April, 1921, Michael Gavin, a Lieutenant in the Ballydonoghue Company, Listowel, and other members of the IRA ASU 6th Battalion, Kerry No 2 Brigade, were travelling from Newtownsandes to Duagh, when they heard of enemy movement in Kilmorna, not far from where they were.
They made their way there and attacked the British soldiers, wounding two of them, but fire was returned and a British Army Captain named Watson shot Michael Gavin in the head, killing him instantly. His comrades managed to escape.
His family, friends or neighbours could not claim the body as reprisals would follow from the British forces, so his remains were buried by the British in an unmarked grave in Teampaillin Bán, the workhouse cemetery, where they lay for three weeks ; his remains were then quietly removed by his faimly and comrades and reinterred at Gate Cemetery in Ballydonoghue.
On the 6th April, 1922, ‘The Leinster Leader’ newspaper carried a letter from a Mr Thomas Lawler who styled himself as the ‘Officer Commanding Kildare Brigade 1st Eastern Division IRA’ ; in his letter, Mr Lawler stated that he himself would not be responsible for “debts contracted by any parties calling themselves the IRA and not under my command…”.
Mr Lawler had then recently turned Free Stater and his leadership position had been taken over by Thomas Harris, Officer Commanding of the 7th Brigade IRA, who was acting under Army Council authority.
On the 6th April, 1922, three ex-RIC members were attacked in their homes in Ballyhaunis, in County Mayo ; one of them, named Cranny, was killed, a second man named Butler was seriously wounded and the third man, named Flynn, was not at home when the IRA called to him. Flynn left Ballyhaunis the next day.
Two senior republican operatives, Tom Derrig and Moss Twomey, both members of the IRA GHQ Staff, were captured by the Free State Army on Raglan Road in Ballsbridge, Dublin, on the 6th April 1923. While in the custody of the Staters, Tom Derrig was shot in the face and lost his left eye.
Mr Derrig was soon to be permanently (politically) ‘blinded’ as he later turned his back on republicanism and joined the Free State administration.
Moss Twomey stayed within the republican fold but took a ‘back seat’ in 1939 when he opened a newsagent shop in O’Connell Street, in Dublin. He died in October 1978, and his funeral was well attended by all branches of the Republican Movement.
On the 6th April, 1923, a Free State Army raiding party operating in Derry na Feena/Derrynafeana (‘the Oak Wood of the Fenians’) in Glencar, near Carrantuohill, in County Kerry, came under attack by the IRA ; the republican objective was to slow down the Staters to allow an IRA column to escape from the area. The Staters were looking for, in particular, an IRA informer named Cornelius Hanafin, who was about to be executed by the IRA.
Two IRA Volunteers, George Nagle (25) and William Conway O’Connor (20), offered to delay the Staters and both were wounded while doing so ; George Nagle was wounded in the leg and William Conway O’Connor was wounded in his shoulder but, somehow, both men died from their wounds, according to the Staters.
However, it later transpired that the wounded George Nagle was captured by the FSA outside a house belonging to a local lady, Molly O’Brien, and was shot dead by them. The lady went out to see if she could comfort him in his last few minutes but was forced back into her house by them.
The informer Hanafin was rescued by his FSA colleagues.
On the 24th February, 1923, a civilian prisoner, John Conway, was “shot dead while trying to escape from the prison in Tralee Workshop in County Kerry”, according to the ‘official’ version. Mr Conway died from shock and haemorrhage. The shooter was named as Free State Army Captain Patrick Byrne.
On the 6th April, 1923, the results of the inquest into the death of Mr Conway were made public ; Captain Byrne was found to be ‘guilty of wilful murder’ but the court ruled that it could not decide on Byrne’s sanity at the time of the killing ; he was not dismissed from the FSA but was demobilised in March 1924 and pensioned-off in 1925 on one hundred and twenty five pounds sterling per year. He died in 1946.
Ian Paisley was born on this date in 1926. More here…
On the 6th April, 1954, Westminster passed its ‘Flags and Emblems Act’ which outlawed the display of the Irish Tricolour anywhere in the Occupied Six Counties. Some shoppers, for instance, had boycotted shops displaying the Union Jack flag and in some cases the Union Jacks were removed by citizens and replaced with the Tricolour.
Under this British ‘law’, anyone displaying a Tricolour, or any other flag other than the Union Jack, could be charged with breaching the peace and faced a fine of £500 or up to five years in prison.
Thanks for the visit, and for reading.
Please note that we won’t be posting our usual contribution next Wednesday, 13th April 2022, as we’re helping to organise a few Easter events. But we’ll be back on Wednesday, 20th April, 2022, and one of the pieces that we’ll be writing about is in connection with a high-ranking IRA leader who flipped, politically, and assisted in nurturing the then newly-spawned Free State.
Sharon and the team.